Over the last few months, it felt as if it was all quiet on the Disney front. The tumultuous Spring, which saw The Walt Disney Company take an overtly far-left political stance and oppose the Florida State Government over its new Parental Rights in Education Law and State lawmakers voting to add the arguably-overdue elimination of Reed Creek Improvement District to its already-planned redistricting efforts, tumbled–just like the Disney stock price–into a relatively quiet summer. The Mouse House removed its push for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” from the forefront, albeit continuing a subtle directional change in its Parks and Disney+ projects, and only a few premature lawsuits against Tallahassee’s decision were brought forward and turned away.
Most of the dissatisfaction among fans returned its focus to CEO Bob Chapek’s financial focus. But the question still lingered in the air: What will the fate of Disney’s special Central Florida district be, come next summer? Well, it appears a concrete plan is starting to emerge.
Ben Watkins, director of Florida’s bond finance division, sat down with Variety to share some insights on the plan ahead. The solution would be a far-less-autonomous successor agency to the one established by the Reedy Creek Improvement Act of 1967. The district lines are inclined to stay as they are, and its lingering debt will remain its own to pay. However, certain powers granted to those with those boundaries–i.e., the ability to build and operate a nuclear power plant–will be revoked.
As described by Watkins, the key difference would be the state-appointed board seats. Depending on who held the majority, the new board could be anything from a minor annoyance to a major headache. Park visitors and employees, though, might not notice any difference.
The coverage goes on to take an antagonizing stance against Governor Ron DeSantis, arguably attempting to spark political division at a time when all people of the state of Florida are banding together to recover from what is being estimated by insurance insiders to be the costliest hurricane since Katrina. It also alludes to him as a “tyrannical leader” despite the fact that this additional legislation was actually spearheaded by the elected lawmakers in the State Congress and was passed in the Senate with a vote of 23-16, and the House of Representatives at a whopping 70-38.
Now, it is true that the timing of Reedy Creek’s potential demise is incredibly unfortunate and paints the Sunshine State’s current government as one unabashed to target political dissenters. But, one important detail continues to remain omitted from most coverage: The Reedy Creek Improvement District’s current setup is unconstitutional.
We at Disney Fanatic shared the facts with our readers in April that Amending Florida Statues Section 189.0311 regarding independent special districts and their charter requirements, SB 4-C states:
“…any independent special district established by a special act prior to the date of ratification of the Florida Constitution on November 5, 1968, and which was not reestablished, re-ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968, is dissolved effective June 1, 2023…An independent special district affected by this subsection may be reestablished on or after June 1, 2023, pursuant to the requirements and limitations of this chapter.”
There were scores of special districts in the State of Florida that had to make the necessary changes and did so accordingly. Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District was one of only five special districts that had so far failed to make the necessary changes. And Disney chose to pick a fight with a uniquely-unified state government just as its lawmakers were preparing to review and make revisions to the state’s current districts. Like a kid mouthing off to a teacher and thus sparking inspiration to take a closer audit of his overwise glossed-over paper, causing an A- to legitimately drop to a C-, Disney’s bullishness exposed its objective weak points.
So, as this writer speculated, when the bill was signed into law, the chances are that the physical make-up of the Reedy Creek Improvement District will remain intact with its operational and legal makeup amended to a constitutional standard.
Recently, we reported that The Walt Disney Company renewed its efforts to support the advancement of LGBTQ+ agendas, as it is free to do. However, the Reedy Creek story sets the standard that no business operating in the State of Florida can be above or outside the law.
There are still far more specific details and confirmations yet to emerge regarding the reshaping of Disney World’s special home in Florida between now and June 1, 2023. We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on this story as more developments come to light.